What’s behind the slowdown in local plan submissions?
The Government’s local plan deadline is fast approaching. With an aim to increase housing supply, the latest Planning Inspectorate Statistics (PINS) show that the number of plans submitted for examination dropped sharply from 2014/2015 to 2015/2016.
Last summer saw the Government set a deadline of early 2017 for local planning authorities in England to produce local plans or face government intervention. A year on and it is still unclear as to what stage a council should have reached in order to meet this requirement.
In July last year, former planning minister Brandon Lewis said: “In cases where no local plan has been produced by early 2017, the Government will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate production.” In an interview earlier this year, Lewis suggested that local authorities are likely to need to have submitted a local plan for examination in order to meet the target.
With the deadline imminent, new figures from the PINS show little evidence that the threat of intervention has sparked an upsurge in submissions. In fact, the data shows that the overall number of plans submitted to PINS by English authorities for examination has dropped from 95 in 2013/14 to 78 in 2014/15, to just 42 in the 2015/16 financial year. Within this over-arching category, the number of strategic plans submitted for examination has dropped markedly, down from 47 in 2013/14 to just 11 in 2015/16.
It looks unlikely that this deadline will be met, as many have argued that more clarity is needed from the Government on what actually needs to be delivered. Planners are still awaiting the Government’s response to recommendations made in March by the Government-commissioned Local Plan Expert Group (LPEG), which suggested a complete change of the rules.